2015-09-12 12.20.14

Following the 3rd meeting of our nascent reflective practice group…included in this post are:

        1. The characteristics of a master teacher,

2. Dates & topics for upcoming RPG Gatherings,

3. A summary of our most recent session, and

4. Our reflections about the group: What do we want our Reflective Practice Group to be?

You are perfect the way you are...

Characteristics of a Master Teacher

In his book, The Teacher Makes the Difference, M. Pressley[i] says

“…master teachers are just a bit unsatisfied with their own knowledge or skill level, in spite of their tremendous success with student learning.  They constantly seek out new ideas from colleagues and professional development opportunities” and they see “instruction as equal parts art and science.”

So, congratulations to those of you who are seeking out new ideas with a Reflective Practice Group!

Upcoming RPG Gatherings

Save these Sunday evenings (note that they are all the 2nd Sunday of the month).

Oct 11          Where do we learn to be effective teachers? Usually, the answer is “in the classroom,” or “on the job.”  But what does that mean?  Teaching typically involves 3 stages:  planning, execution, and reflecting afterwards.  When and where in the process do we learn?

There are many models for teacher reflection.  We’ll experiment with the approach developed by Daniel Schön.[ii]  Schön challenged teachers to reconsider the role of technical knowledge versus “artistry” in developing professional excellence.

For this session, “bring” one thing that happened in a recent lesson that was different from what you expected.  It could be positive, negative, or just different. You don’t need to analyze it; we’ll do that together.

Nov 8           Lesson Planning Time; How do we keep it reasonable? One of the most difficult challenges for new teachers is the incredible amount of time we spend planning lessons. What’s reasonable?  How do we streamline the process and use the time we spend more efficiently?  It can’t be a simple as developing a repertoire of lessons, because every class and every student is different.  Bring your questions and ideas.

 Dec 13          Holiday Party + SMILE: Setting sustainable goals for ourselvesWe have high expectations for ourselves and for our students.  At times we want to do more AND simultaneously, we feel overwhelmed. The SMILE approach was developed by Josette Leblanc, a reflective teacher trainer who focuses on self-compassion for teachers.

 Where & When:  We meet at 6:30 for social/snacks, and the workshop is 7-9pm.  Address:  93 Larkspur, San Rafael, upstairs in the “86 Building,” which is across the parking lot from the Canal Alliance main office.

Bring a snack or beverage to share.

If you can, please carpool: http://www.groupcarpool.com/t/gfcn28

RSVP:  linda@lmkoza.com

Everyone is Welcome!

Summary of our most recent gathering:

13 teachers met on September 6th, for a session focused on how we help students encounter and clarify new vocabulary.  After social time with wonderful, healthy snacks and home-baked goodies, we enjoyed a fun and funny community-builder based on phrasal-verbs.  Then, in groups of 3 and 4, we shared ideas about how we approach teaching new vocabulary in our classes.  It was interesting to hear several people talking about their own experiences learning vocabulary in other languages. Putting ourselves in the students’ shoes can’t help but make us more aware of what really facilitates learning.  In fact, the next thing we did was role-play students to experience five easy, low prep ways of helping students encounter and clarify vocabulary. After those experiences, we regrouped according to the levels we teach, and each group discussed how they might adapt the activities for use with different target language and concepts in their own classes.  And we shared some vocabulary activities from Laurel Pollard’s Zero-Prep for Beginners.

What do we want our Reflective Practice Group to be?

The “regulars” are an interesting mixture of very, very experienced teachers and new teachers. As coordinator, I wasn’t sure whether we should be focusing on sharing practical teaching tips and techniques for the classroom, or spending our time collaboratively reflecting on our individual teaching practices.  So, at the end of the workshop, everyone did an anonymous “free-write” about what they liked best about their favorite group experiences, what they bring to a group (in general), what they want to offer this group, and what they want to learn from this group.

What does every one value in a group?  Humor!  Humor was mentioned by nearly every teacher.  (And we had lots of humor at our last meeting – sassy role-playing students debating whether tomatoes are fruits or vegetables, plus Tim’s socks!)  Plus food. We value sharing good food! And this I found both moving and encouraging:  virtually everyone felt that they have valuable insights and experiences to share – experienced and newer teachers alike!

Our colleagues who teach at community colleges have lots of opportunity for collaboration and professional development. But most of us in this group don’t work in a context that offers such opportunities.  And everyone said that is something they want from the group.

So this is what we want our RPG to be:  opportunities to reflect in community on our own teaching practice, to share our experiences and hard-earned wisdom, and to learn from one another. With food and humor!

[i] Pressley, M. http://www.pearsonhighered.com/assets/hip/us/hip_us_pearsonhighered/samplechapter/0132963507.pdf

[ii] Schön, D. (The Reflective Practitioner:  How Professionals Think in Action (1984)  and Educating the Reflective Practitioner (1987))